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The Oxford Guide to Library Research
The Oxford Guide to Library Research
by Thomas Mann
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.64
98 used & new from $1.72

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Researcher's Best Friend, January 9, 2006
The third edition of Thomas Mann's "Oxford Guide to Library Research" is an indispensable friend for students and scholars, or anyone in the general public who has a hobby, a pet project or just the desire to know, and wants not only to improve their research skills but to learn - and take full advantage of - all the resources available to the library researcher in the Computer Age. When the second edition of the "Oxford Guide" was published, all the way back in 1998, computer programs in libraries were pretty much limited to a catalogue of a library's holdings, a smattering of databases perhaps, and Internet access, maybe. Dr. Mann unfolds the riches that may now be found at library workstations and the new ways to find the best on its shelves.

And you can't hope for a better guide. A reference librarian in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress for 25 years, Dr. Mann's firsthand experience in helping patrons get the most out of their library experience is evident in this book. While some would consign libraries and the outmoded technology they were built to house (known as books) to the dustbin, Dr. Mann reveals how computers have done more for library research and serious scholars than for the search for general, often disorganized and unreliable, "information" on the Web.

In the early days of computerization there was a popular acronym for the uncertain results of Internet searching, GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out). It has been supplanted nowadays by the kinder, gentler "I feel lucky" or, for the happy-go-lucky, the "sloppy search." Use these methods, whether on a search engine or a library computer catalogue, you'll likely lwind up with thousands of hits. (Good luck.) But here's Thomas Mann to the rescue. In his chapters on subject headings, on keyword searches and on Boolean combinations and search limitations, he sets out to help you define your subject concisely and precisely, and choose the search methods that will get you to the best sources for your project, instead of settling for what is "good enough." (Is it?)

In "The Oxford Guide to Library Research" you will learn how the indexed subheadings in a subject browse on the library computer catalogue can turn up unexpected sources - instant bibliographies, so to speak - that are just right for your topic, as well as how to negotiate such as the electronic databases with full-text articles from thousands of journals and newspapers. The rest of the book is devoted to the range of print and electronic resources: the specialized encyclopedias on topics that you would never imagine have encyclopedias of their own; microform and CD-ROM databases; online programs that can locate books in a more distant library if it turns out that what you seek is not available in your local branch. An innovation in this edition of the "Oxford Guide" is facsimiles of the actual search pages of major databases to illustrate examples in the text. His invaluable chapter, "Hidden Treasures," has grown by half again from the one in the second edition, now noting print collections that are also available in online databases, as well as a selection of collections exclusive to the web.

Dr. Mann's major goal is to get you to the sources you want, and ones you don't yet know you want, in the most direct and effective way; to make you think, not like a librarian, but as someone with a specific personal research goal, and to give you the knowledge and skills to accomplish it. He peppers the book with anecdotes from his firsthand experiences with researchers, the college student, the accomplished professor and the weekend scholar, while relating information in a conversational, descriptive fashion with sparing use of professional jargon. With "The Oxford Guide to Library Research" at hand when you get to work on your next project, you may discover that doing the research for it is half the fun of getting there. Or, maybe, all of it.


Shakespeare, in Fact
Shakespeare, in Fact
by Irvin Leigh Matus
Edition: Hardcover
40 used & new from $0.78

28 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author's remarks regard an existing review, December 1, 2004
This review is from: Shakespeare, in Fact (Hardcover)
I am writing in regarding to the following "review" of SHAKESPEARE, IN FACT by Irvin Leigh Matus posted on Amazon.com:

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Nice try, Irv, April 23, 2003

Reviewer: A reader

You know, the Stratfordians change punctuation of 400-year-old documents in order to further their cause. This author can't be trusted. It's a book for those who want their myths propped up, not demolished. Nice going, Mr. Matus.

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I happen to be Irvin Leigh Matus - that Irvin Leigh Matus (just to make sure I am not confused with the untold other Irvin Leigh Matuses). I will here note this letter is not intended for publication on the Amazon website, or anywhere else.

I feel some temptation to let this review remain online. I share Samuel Johnson's faith in the "common sense" of "common readers," which is justified by their unanimous rejection of this posting. I imagine with pleasure that its author may visit it from time to time to learn it has captured little interest and been judged to have no value. The results, however, do not negate the intentions of this "reviewer" or the substance of the review. Further, the small number who took the trouble to enter their negative opinion of the review undoubtedly do not reflect the far larger number who saw it and did not give their opinion, some of whom may have come away with a negative disposition toward the reliability of the book and its author.

The only thing in my book that might be the candidate for his/her review is a lawsuit written in Latin, which is discussed on pages 39-40 of my book, in which I give a full account of its interpretation. It so happens, aware that the Latin used in legal documents was different from the classical Latin as it was then taught, I spent ten months seeking someone with expertise in these documents. The punctuation was not, as charged, changed - the document is in fact unpunctuated - and the punctuation added was supplied to me in written form by the scholar mentioned (who is not a Shakespearean but an expert in wills, deeds, lawsuits and similar documents; he requested anonymity after giving the information to me because he didn't wish to be hounded by the controversialists - which the review in question justifies).

If this is indeed the item in question, perhaps Anonymous doubts the honesty of my claim that I consulted an experienced, respected archival scholar (page 40). I was in fact directed to him by the then rare books librarian of the Library of Congress' Law Library, and I still have the scholar's handwritten notes with his signature, which include his request that I "not cite this as a communication from me."

Two things need to be noted about the content of Anonymous' charge. First, by not identifying the specific item at issue, it could be anything in my book. It is the rule of controversialist scholarship, the error rate of which hovers around 100 percent, that a single flaw in a work of orthodox scholarship, whether perceived or actual - or fabricated - is sufficient in their eyes to cast doubt upon the accuracy and authenticity of the entire work. Second, Anonymous' primary purpose is clearly to impugn both my standards of scholarship and my integrity as a scholar.

It should be noted that in the ten years since the publication of my book, it has been reviewed and commented upon by scores of Shakespeareans and Oxfordians (many more of the latter) and this review is the only instance I know of in which my integrity has been attacked or I have been accused of falsifying facts. This is also the first time I have openly responded to a criticism of my book.

To the point, even without the foregoing, I am surprised that Amazon.com would publish an unspecific charge of falsified data by someone unwilling to give either his/her name or email address. Whereas I understand that it may not be feasible to research the accuracy and authenticity of what reviewers say, the form and content of this review should have raised caution flags. Circulating such blind remarks invites all kinds and all degrees of false charges.

This is especially significant because I suspect that more people may get opinion about a book from Amazon.com reviews than any other source. As you must be aware of Amazon.com's influence on the perception of a book, it should be especially wary of posting a review that contains statements that attack an author and his work anonymously. Nor should an allegation of scholarly malfeasance be put online that does not mention the specific item in which it is alleged to occur. There is, however, a compelling reason for not publishing such things on a website, which is that the publisher can be held accountable. Laws against libel do not stop at the portals of the Internet. Perhaps a still more compelling reason from Amazon's point of view is that it discourages sales of books, which authors don't much like either.

I therefore request that this review be removed from the Amazon.com website.

With my thanks for your attention,

Irvin Leigh Matus
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